When Chevrolet introduced the Corvette in 1953, Ford was caught flat-footed. There was nothing offered in the Ford Lineup to compete with GMs groundbreaking foray into sports car manufacture.

Ford answered the challenge of the Corvette in 1955 with the Thunderbird. Ford had little time to design and develop an entirely new automobile and relied heavily upon existing technology and parts. True to form, Ford quickly leapt ahead of the competition, selling 16,000 units in the first year of Thunderbird production. Corvette only produced 700 units in 1955. Some of the major advantages the Thunderbird had over the Corvette included its more powerful engine, lower selling price and possibly most important, the fact that the Thunderbird was a comfortable sports car. Where Corvette was the first American roadster, the Thunderbird was called the first successful American roadster. 1957 saw the first real restyling of the Thunderbird, introducing fins, an extended rear section to provide more adequate storage space and improved handling features.

Specifications: 212 horsepower, 292 cubic inch, V-8 engine. Price new: $3,408.

Donated by Robert and Nancy Warren.

Accession no. 2008G002

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